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British soldier killed in combat

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- A British soldier has died in fighting in southern Iraq -- the first British combat fatality of the campaign.

The death on Monday came as the military continued to search for two soldiers missing in action since Sunday, the British Ministry of Defence said.

No details of how the soldier died or where the missing soldiers were fighting have been released except to say both incidents happened in southern Iraq.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "We can confirm a British soldier was killed this morning. The soldier was killed near Al-Zubayr, near Basra. His next of kin has been informed."

A separate MoD statement said "every effort" was being made to recover the missing soldiers, whose next of kin had also been informed.

Two British pilots were killed Sunday when their Tornado GR4 aircraft was shot down by a U.S. Patriot missile in a friendly fire incident.

And on Saturday, two Royal Navy Sea King helicopters collided over the northern Arabian Gulf, killing six British and one U.S. crew member aboard.

Several British units, including the 7th Armored Brigade and the Royal Irish Regiment, have been fighting Iraqi troops throughout southern Iraq.

British Royal Marines have met stiff resistance during attempts to secure the vital Iraqi port of Umm Qasr.

The British forces have deployed around 45,000 personnel to the region in an exercise called Operation Telic.

Since the conflict began, at least 16 British servicemen have been killed.


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